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A gentleman entered my study, and fixing his eyes
upon me, said, I suspect you do not know me Sir?
Murray. I cannot recollect your name Sir.
Gentleman. Thirty years ago I saw you, and, Sir, I felt you too, and in consequence of feeling you, I visited you, nor have I ever since lost sight of you.
M. You do me honour, Sir.
G. I honour your Creator, Sir, for to him both you, and I, are indebted for every good.
M. Your observation becomes the mouth of a gratefully dependant being. All praise, and every acknowledgment is unquestionably due to the God by whom we were made.
G. To convince you how deeply I was impressed by the first discourse I heard you deliver, although thirty years have since elapsed, I will delineate it to you, nor do I believe that I shall deviate, in point of doctrine, in a single particular. To confess the truth, I rarely pass a day without rehearsing this same sermon, for it was the instrument by which I received a hope full of immortality. Are you willing to hear me, Sir?
M. I am all attention, Sir.
G. Well, Sir, interrupt me if I should be wrong. It was about thirty years ago, more or less, that I entered a church with a number of other triflers, merely to hear what the stranger, the babbler, as we licentiously styled you, could say for himself; but never, in the whole course of my life, was I so much astonished; never was I so completely confounded. Your prayer was impressive; I was awed and solemnized. You named your text, Matthew iii. 10, "And now also the axe is laid to the root of the
Redeemer of the world, which has, through a series of years so strongly marked his career, characterizes and distinguishes the reflections, but perhaps the multiplied remarks and investigations, are not altogether as methodical, and luminous, as he could have rendered them, had they been the result of those happy hours, when he was blest by the full enjoyment of intellectual vigor. Editor.
trees; therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire." Do you remember the evening, Sir?
M. Not particularly, Sir; but I have frequently considered that passage.
G. Well, Sir; you read your text, and having thus done, you paused, remarked, and questioned. "Stop, indulge me once more; did we read correctly? Is the axe laid to the roots of the trees, or is it laid to the root of the trees? Yea, verily, we have rendered the passage verbatim; it is root in the singular, it is trees in the plural. "This caught and fixed my attention; I was roused; I began to feel as well as to hear. You forcibly entreated your audience to observe the axe was not laid to the roots of the trees. I started; what can this man mean? Root in the singular, trees in the plural! What is it? You proceeded. Every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. I listened with all my soul to every word you uttered. You informed us, that men were compared to trees; that there could be but two sorts of trees, good and bad; and that a good tree could not bring forth bad fruit, neither could a bad tree bring forth good fruit; you proceeded to demonstrate, that nothing could be good which did not, in every particular, correspond with the perfection of God's holy law; and I remember you derived all your authorities from scripture, by which sacred writings, you proved incontrovertibly, that whoso offended in one point was guilty of all; and it was made evident to my understanding, and that from the same divine source, that there was none good; no, not one. I was exceedingly, and I will confess, distressingly alarmed. Bless me, thought I, where are we now? I came into this church to hear a Universalist; yes, he is a Universalist with a vengeance; but it is universal damnation which he preaches. I promise you my sensations were truly horrible; for although I had united with the multitude to ridicule you, I still cherished a secret hope, that I might derive consolation from your teaching; yet you had precipitated me to the brink of despair! But while my astonishment momently augmented as if you had read my thoughts, and it appeared to me you looked full in my face, you proceeded to say, "but it will be asked, who then can be saved?" You answered this most important question, and your answer removed a mountain from my bosom. If, said you, the axe had not been laid to
the root of the trees, no individual could have been saved. It was then, that you began to preach unto us, Jesus, the root as well as the offspring of David, the bright and morning star, who, when lifted up from the earth, drew all men unto him, so that the love of Christ constrained the Apostle to say, if one died for all, then were all dead; and you proved from the sacred volume, that one did indeed die for all. It had been said, you remarked, that in many places the word all, did not mean all; but if all did not mean all, every one must assuredly mean all and every one; and if the axe be laid to the root of the trees, and if the prophet Malachi in the first verse of his fourth chapter of his prophecy was correct; if in that day, that burned as the oven all the proud, and all that did wickedly were as the stubble burned up, leaving them neither root nor branch, then the prophet showed us what has since been accomplished. It was, said you, in this day of the LORD which burned as an oven, when the head of every man being lifted up, drew all men unto him, that this head of every man finished transgression and made an end of sin. I recollect you summoned the prophet Daniel to your aid. After three score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince shall come, shall destroy the city, and the sanctuary, and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. When Messiah was cut off, then was the axe laid to the root of the trees; and when he came to the close of his sufferings, when he pronounced, it is finished, and bowing his head, gave up the ghost, then did the Lamb of God take away the sin of the world. Then as the root was holy, so were the branches. Romans xi. 16.
It was upon that, to me, memorable evening, that the scriptures broke forth upon me in all their beautiful consistency. The testimony was most glorious; never can that evening be blotted from my memory. From that moment I have perused the sacred volume with pleasure, with gratitude. It hath become a source of information, a source of constant delight. But, Sir, now we are upon this subject, permit me to say, as I may never again be indulged with an opportunity of seeing you, that I wish to make a request; have I permission?
M. Undoubtedly, Sir.
G. I have heard, that you write your sermons before youdeliver them, and then commit them to memory. If my information VOL. III.
be correct, I presume you preserve those productions. The second time I heard you was upon the dress of the Jewish high Priest, and from that moment I have been charmed with Aaron's dress. Will you favour me with a copy of that discourse?
M. You have been misinformed, Sir; I have never yet been in the habit of writing down even my text. I frequently search for it after I reach the pulpit; and I have often found it chosen for me by an unknown hand, and pinned upon the cushion.
G. I am sorry for it, sorry indeed; can you not name the heads of that discourse, and I will endeavour to retain them in my memory.
M. Alas! it is impossible, at least at this time; but when I have leisure and freedom, I will endeavour to recollect and arrange my ideas upon the holy garments, and should I be able to please myself, I will furnish you with a copy.
G. You will oblige me exceedingly; but I am afraid you will forget me.
M. I wish I was as sure of remembering the sermon, as I am of not forgetting you.
This conversation was preserved in my Journal as a memorandum, and it is transcribed as another proof of the folly of procrastination. I delayed to comply with the wish of this warm hearted christian; and now when I am solicited for my views of this symbolic dress, and told by many, that it will greatly enrich my contemplated publication, enfeebled by a weight of years, and still more by infirmities, I have hardly produced the shadow of what once lived in my understanding; but my partial friends, and I presume, few others, will peruse these volumes, will accept my ardent will instead of more vigorous deeds. I have come the nearest to obedience which my imbecility will permit.
EXODUS xl. 33, 34, 35.
First, THE work was finished. "It is finished, said the Redeemer of the world."
Secondly, Immediately on the completion of the work, the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 1 Kings, viii. 10, "And
it came to pass when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD." Chapter xiii. 21, 22, “And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night. He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night from before the people." Ezekiel xliii. 4, 5, "And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. So the Spirit took me up and brought me into the inner court, and behold the glory of the LORD filled the house." Thirdly, When the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle, Moses was not able to enter therein. 1 Kings viii. 11, “So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD." 2 Chronicles, v. 13, 14, "It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth forever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God."
Either this tabernacle and every thing which appertained thereto was figurative of, and pointed to the dealings of the Creator with mankind in general, or it is of no consequence to any part of the human family, except the select people among whom it was reared. Human nature is, in various parts of sacred writ, said to be the house of God, the building of God, and the temple of God. When the tabernacle was finished, it was filled by the glory of the LORD; when the plans of God are finished, the human building of Jehovah will be filled with his glory. And truly as I live, saith the LORD, the whole earth shall be filled with my glory, and the knowledge of the LORD shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. What earth? The insensate clod on which we tread, is not susceptible of knowledge. The sons and daughters of men are the earth of which God the LORD speaketh. This view of the text, renders it deeply and importantly interesting to every human being; the exposition becomes easy, and the result is glorious.